on September 1, 2020
Genres: Young Adult
Published by Skyscape
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Setting: United States
A neglected girl’s chaotic coming-of-age becomes a trending new hashtag in a novel about growing up and getting away by an award-winning author.
Underprivileged and keenly self-aware, SoCal fourteen-year-old Layla Bailey isn’t used to being noticed. Except by mean girls who tweet about her ragged appearance. All she wants to do is indulge in her love of science, protect her vulnerable younger brother, and steer clear of her unstable mother.
Then a school competition calls for a biome. Layla chooses her own home, a hostile ecosystem of indoor fungi and secret shame. With a borrowed video camera, she captures it all. The mushrooms growing in her brother’s dresser. The black mold blooming up the apartment walls. The unmentionable things living in the dead fridge. All the inevitable exotic toxins that are Layla’s life. Then the video goes viral.
When Child Protective Services comes to call, Layla loses her family and her home. Defiant, she must face her bullies and friends alike, on her own. Unafraid at last of being seen, Layla accepts the mortifying reality of visibility. Now she has to figure out how to stay whole and stand behind the truth she has shown the world.
This isn’t the type of book I’d generally pick up but I’m glad I did. Layla, her mother, and her younger brother live in extremely dangerous conditions. Her mother is not mentally well and has addiction issues. A series of small mishaps combine to cause horrific conditions inside their apartment over time.
Layla is trying to hold it all together. She’s a star student. She’s trying to keep her brother’s life as normal as possible. But people are starting to notice. She has bullies at school. Her one friend’s mom wants to help but Layla knows if she lets her get too close her carefully balanced world will come tumbling down.
This is the story of a young girl forced to grow up too fast. Going into foster care isn’t an option that she thinks will be feasible. A lot of this story is very sad but you want to root for her. She’s a survivor and she has a very hard time accepting help because she knows that it always comes with strings attached.